Australian shares rise as RBA holds rates, Omicron fears ease

Energy, travel-related stocks lead gains

  

Australian shares rose for a third session on Tuesday, following a decision by the central bank to leave interest rates on hold and as fears around the Omicron coronavirus variant eased after experts said the new strain would not be as dangerous as Delta.

The S&P/ASX 200 index . settled 0.95% higher at 7,313.9, with energy and travel stocks leading gains. The benchmark had closed 0.05% higher on Monday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its cash rate at a record low, in line with market expectations, and stuck with its bond buying plans, but adjusted its policy statement to allow for a possible increase before 2023.

"The RBA is stuck pushing asset bubbles and hoping it doesn't go wrong. If the U.S. Fed moves to faster tapering next week to prepare for multiple rate rises next year, the RBA will have to follow or face high inflation," said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive officer at Deep Data Analytics.

Top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said, in reference to the new coronavirus variant, "thus far it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it."

Travel and tourism stocks rebounded after medical experts talked down the risk from the Omicron variant. Travel management firms Flight Centre Travel Group, Corporate Travel Management and Webjet gained between 2.8% and 5.4%, while carrier Qantas Airways added 5% in its best session since Nov. 8.

Energy stocks climbed 2.07% after oil prices rebounded nearly 5% overnight. Beach Energy Ltd was the top gainer with a rise of 4.27%, followed by Oil Search Ltd

Papua New Guinea-focussed Oil Search  advanced 3.53?% after its A$8.8 billion ($6.23 billion) buyout by Santos Ltd  received overwhelming support from its shareholders.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 was largely unchanged at 12,609.9. ($1 = 1.4118 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)


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